Sunday, October 24, 2021

1.5°C Limit Requires Unprecedented Fossil Fuel Declines

To limit warming to 1.5°C fossil fuel use must decline at unprecedented rates. Cell Press:

Limiting climate change to the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Climate Agreement will likely require coal and gas power use to decline at rates that are unprecedented for any large country, an analysis of decadal episodes of fossil fuel decline in 105 countries between 1960 and 2018 shows. Furthermore, the findings, published October 22 in the journal One Earth, suggest that the most rapid historical cases of fossil fuel decline occurred when oil was replaced by coal, gas, or nuclear power in response to energy security threats of the 1970s and the 1980s....

"We also studied recent political pledges to completely phase out coal power, which some 30 countries made as part of the Powering Past Coal Alliance. We found that these pledges do not aim for faster coal decline than what has occurred historically.... In other words, they plan for largely business as usual."

Who believes that's going to happen?

There just haven't been near enough shocking disasters from climate change yet, especially in the developed world, to change the lock corporations have on governments. (1,000 dead in the Pacific Northwest heat wave? Scoff. 3,000 dead in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria? Just throw them paper towels!) 

COP26 is surely going to end with a pledge or plan to limit warming to 1.5°C, and they're going to lose credibility by doing so.

A book I'm reading how, How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm, argues that no great societal transition has come without violence and even political terrorism and that the pacifism of the climate movement isn't working near fast enough and it additionally adopt some new tactics -- property sabotage, violence against property. Malm cites the ways that slavery ended in the US, how women's suffrage was won in the UK, the civil rights movement in the US, and the Poll Tax Riots against Margaret Thatcher's 1990 Community Charge. You could add the eco-terrorism in the Pacific Northwest to save indigenous species, some of which is still going on.

Malm is calling for sabatoge against property, not violence against people (such as in the plot, albeit fiction, of Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry of the Future.) 

Malm's book was published in 2018, before Greta Thunberg and the massive youth climate protests that have taken place. Wikipedia says, "However, after the start of Fridays For Future in 2018 and the spread of climate protest camps in Germany and throughout Europe in 2019, Malm described feeling 'elated and encouraged by the wave of activism' but frustrated by the climate movement's "strict commitment to absolute nonviolence." 

It's an interesting and thought provoking book and I'm only 1/3rd of the way through, and looking forward to reading the rest.

COP26 starts in a week, but of course they're already getting their ducks lined up, or trying to.


Entropic man said...

Too !ittle , too late.

We're committed to climate change in the same way that a man who's jumped off the Empire State Building is committed to hitting the sidewalk.

The damage has not happened yet, but there is no longer any way to avoid it.

Layzej said...

"Malm is calling for sabatoge against property"

What are your thoughts on this? I can't imagine it will win hearts or minds. There is real political change already underway. Canada has a national carbon tax. The UK has a climate bill in it's final stages (

There is already broad interest in addressing climate change. If activists go after supply side by attacking infrastructure, that support would be greatly diminished. It may even result in broad opposition.